Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me . . . so that you may live (Isaiah 55:1-3).
In December 1972 the US Navy stationed me in Yokosuka, Japan. Within weeks of my arrival I gave my life to Jesus my Messiah. (You can read a more complete account here: http://bit.ly/2IfnxrU). The people who influenced my early days as a new child of God encouraged me to read the Bible every day because, they said, God speaks to us through its pages.
In those days I was completely ignorant of its content. I didn’t know Hezekiah from Timothy, Caleb from Philemon, 1 Chronicles from 1 Corinthians. But I took their advice and I read. Voraciously, I read.
And I was astounded by the things I was learning.
Several days later I met another sailor from my unit a few doors down the hall from my barracks room. A confirmed atheist, he made no effort to hide his disgust for the Bible I was growing to love. At every opportunity he challenged my new faith, while I, undaunted, tried to persuade him toward Christ.
One afternoon as I walked by his barracks room I noticed his door was wide open. He sat at his desk, a Bible open before him, as he scribbled in a note book. Delighted, I thought maybe he’s beginning to search for God.
I knocked on the door and smiled. “I see you’re studying the Bible.”
He turned in his chair to face me. “Yeah,” he scowled. “I’m studying it so I can prove it wrong.”
Forty-five years later, I still think of that poor, deluded young man. The Bible he was trying to disprove has sent some of the greatest scientific and philosophical minds in history to their knees in worship of the God of that Bible: Thomas Aquinas, Augustine of Hippo, St. Jerome, Justin Martyr, Sir Francis Bacon, Johannes Kepler, Rene Descartes, Blaise Pascal, Sir Isaac Newton, CK Chesterton, CS Lewis, William Buckley . . . . The list grows with each passing year.
Somewhere around 2017 as I researched for this essay, I discovered that more than 65% of Nobel Prize Laureates from 1901 to 2000 identified themselves as Christians. Furthermore, Christians have won a total of 78% of all the Nobel Prizes in Peace, 72% in Chemistry, 65% in Physics, 62% in Medicine, and 54% in Economics.
The Bible he was trying to disprove has survived the contemptuous scorn and calumny of such world-renowned anti-God philosophers as Voltaire, Jean-Paul Sarte, and Friedrich Nietzsche. It has withstood the onslaught of the world’s worst political despots from Nero to Hitler to Stalin to Mao Zedong. And it remains an unshakeable mountain of granite while the bones of atheistic scientific geniuses such as J. Robert Oppenheimer, Carl Sagan, Ivan Pavlov and Linus Pauling slowly turn to dust.
During the past two thousand years the Scriptures have been burned, maligned, spat on, ripped apart, and covered with the blood of men and women who clutched it to their breasts as they died by sword, axes, clubs, and bullets.
I have learned over the last forty-five years many great truths from that book, and about that book. One of which is this: Sin will keep you from the Bible, or the Bible will keep you from sin.
I am now 68 years old. The last 45 years have passed in what seems like just a few weeks. Only God – and perhaps my wife of nearly 43 years – only they know how often during the last four decades of my life the Bible has given me comfort in my deepest despair, hope when I had none left, direction when I was desperately lost, light when I wandered in total darkness, courage when all my courage had failed.
And in this I am not alone. For millennia the Scriptures have been meeting the most desperate needs and restless longing of men and women who are honest enough with themselves to admit to themselves one crucial truth: They need God.
You. Me. Everyone.
We all need Him.